The vampire’s fist breaks his nose off.
And that pisses him off. It’s not like he’s the handsomest golem, the Rabbi did his best but he’s a better occultist than sculptor, the handsomest is definitely Tipareth, but damn it, he’s going to be looking like the fucking Sphinx until he can find some glue or something. He hopes he doesn’t step on it.
All of these thoughts distract Malkuth from the fear. He’s losing. He’s going to fail. This vampire bitch is going to get to the Rabbi because he’s too damn slow. And she’s too damn fast. She’s breaking pieces off him and he can’t land a punch. The only thing that’s working in his favor is that she’s distracted. She wants to get past him, help her boss. She wants that more than she wants to destroy him. That’s where big and slow comes in handy. He can at least stop her from doing that. He will stand in her way until he’s rubble. And, damn, there goes an ear. Oh, well, he’s got another one. The secret fear, that one, he doesn’t even voice to himself.
And then he gets lucky. She tries to go high, leaping off the corridor wall, bouncing off the ceiling, trying to go over him. She almost makes it. One big clay mitt of a hand, missing two fingers by this time, grabs her ankle and hauls her back. Her yelled obscenity is in a language that he doesn’t even recognize.
She must get to the Mistress! The thought stays with her even when she is swung onto the floor, the golem keeping his grip on her leg, swinging her like a granny beating a carpet. One of her shoulders shatters as does the back of her skull. The wounds don’t kill her but she stares at the golem through a haze of pain as her vampire body reknits the bones. The golem. Its scarred face where her blows have landed. A fact worms its way through her pain and through her rage, tries to get her attention. The Hebrew word carved in its forehead. She’s no student of the occult like her Mistress but she’s learned a few things in the centuries. An idea, too desperate to be called a plan, presents itself to her.
He lifts her again to bash her against the floor again. Stupid statue. HIgh in the air, she curls forward. Grabs the golem’s shoulder with one hand to stop her descent. Something bends, breaks, pops through flesh in her leg. She doesn’t care. Almost face to face, almost close enough to kiss, with all her vampire strength, she slams her free fist into the golem’s forehead.
He has enough time, a split second, to realize what’s happened. Failure. He’s failed to protect the Rabbi. The vampire’s fist lands right on his forehead and shatters the Word. Freed of its command, Malkuth returns to the Source.
They all feel it.
Maccabbee doesn’t stop the ma’aseh merkavah, doesn’t stop the steady flow of syllables from his mouth. But he feels Malkuth’s death, feels how the flow from the All Highest diminishes slightly. He grabs onto that with his mind and continues to pull the energy through him – it burns, it always burns – and out into the ritual.
The glowing circle, the glowing symbols flicker, but too quick even for Bathory to take advantage of the lapse. Then they glow even brighter. She hisses.
Tipareth staggers for an instant in the room clouded with gun smoke. The female vampire takes advantage of his distraction, gets close, and rips the Thompson from his grip. There’s a flat grating sound as he loses two fingers along with the gun. He doesn’t care.
Wetzel ducks behind a pillar in the hall, slams a full clip into his gun, takes a quick look back out into the hall. It’s a mad house. Unceasing gunfire. Vampires on fire as they die. Screams as his soldiers are torn apart. He catches sight of the four armed golem. It’s a mobile heavy weapons nest all by itself, three arms handling the machine gun, and its found a spare submachine gun for the the fourth.
He’s about to yell at it to move up a bit, cover some of his men who are getting ready, and he sees the golem stagger, stop firing for a brief moment. It doesn’t look like it was hit. It looks wildly around, spots the other golem, the statue of the Middle Eastern woman. It – Wetzel almost calls it a she – is similarly staggered.
This isn’t good. He can already feel fight start to shift. He loses two more men. Schamper and Kossich are caught in a crossfire. Then a group of vampires moving quick along a wall are hosed down and collapse screaming into flaming husks. The four armed golem is back on duty. Its smooth face is convulsed with rage and it strides forward, straight into the hottest fire.
Illana feels it. She feels the golem die under her fists. She feels it go from living stone to dead statue. She laughs in triumph through a face just barely returned to its old beauty. The bones in her leg twist in healing, withdraw back under the skin. Her triumph is now tinged with urgency. She must return to the Mistress. She’s in danger and she, Illana, must be there to help her.
And she must feed. Soon. All the healing has taken its toll. The thirst burns in her chest, burns in her brain. She tugs her leg to free it from the statue’s grasp.
She’s held fast. Right above her ankle. She tugs harder. The stone fingers don’t budge. A high whining sound erupts between her teeth as Illana struggles, thrashes, reaches down to break the fingers that keep her from her Mistress.
Her anger builds. The bones in her ankle bend. Flesh peels away. And she is still not free. She contorts her body. Braces herself against the statue. Exerts all her strength. And realizes, too late, her mistake.
The statue that was once a living golem wobbles once. Then, with the ponderous implacability of an avalanche, falls over. Illana has time to shriek once. A piercing cry of rage and disbelief. The crash reverberates through the hallway, through the castle. Something in the floor, something structural, snaps. Her body smeared to a paste, both brain and heart obliterated, Illana’s unnatural life comes to an end.
Bathory feels the floor shake, pays it no mind, just shifts her weight to avoid stumbling as she walks around the glowing circle. The light is millions of tiny insects chewing into her flesh wherever it touches her. She pitches her voice to carry over the sound of his praying. There’s no anger in her voice, not yet. She keeps her tone confiding, confident. “I am older than your religion, little priest.” There is a crash behind her as the golem throws Camilla through the bed. Bathory doesn’t look, doesn’t stop talking. “I was a made a Priestess of the Blood long before Moses confronted Ramses. I was actually there, in the shadows, that day when Moses called on your God to blot out the sun. That was impressive, I admit. And much appreciated by us Night Walkers, as you can image. But you haven’t even a fraction of his power. You stand no chance against me.”
Her foot nudges the golem’s gun where it had landed after Camilla had torn it from him. She bends down to pick it. Looks it over, familiarized herself with its workings. LIfts it to her shoulder, points it at priest in his circle. “Let’s see if this works.”
She gimaces at the noise it makes. Her hands hold the gun rock steady as she pours it dry. To no effect. The bullets incandesce into vapor when they hit the plane of the circle. She tosses the gun aside. “I thought not.” She walks around the circle so that she is facing the priest. His eyes are closed, sweat runs down his face. At least he’s in a great deal of pain, she feels good about that. She ignores the sound of Camilla pulling over a carved granite wall panel on top of the golem. She leans as close to the circle as she can get. Welts and blisters appear on her skin. “Please take comfort in the fact that this is going to hurt me much more than it’s going to hurt you.”